When you have a Google Sheets spreadsheet full of data, it can be difficult to see certain cells at a glance. If you have empty cells where you expect data or errors generated from formulas, you can automatically highlight them.

Google Sheets offers useful features to make data entry and analysis easier. One such feature is conditional formatting. With it, you can configure your cells to contain a fill color or specific font style, color, or format when conditions like blanks or errors occur.

Automatically Highlight Blank Cells in Google Sheets

The process for setting up conditional formatting for blanks in Google Sheets only takes a few clicks. So, head to Google Sheets, sign in, and then open your workbook and sheet.

Select the cells where you want to apply the highlighting. You can do this easily by selecting the first cell and dragging through the rest. Then, click Format > Conditional Formatting on the menu.

Click Format, Conditional Formatting

This opens the Conditional Format Rules sidebar, which is ready for your new rule. If you have other rules set up already, you’ll need to click “Add Another Rule.”

Click Add Another Rule

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In either case, make sure that the Single Color tab is selected.

At the top of the sidebar, confirm the cells that you want to apply the rule to in the “Apply to Range” box. You can make adjustments here if needed.

Confirm the cells in Apply To Range

Next, go down to the Format Rules section. Click the “Format Cells If” drop-down box and choose “Is Empty.”

Select Is Empty

In the Formatting Style area, choose the formatting that you want to use to highlight the blank cells. You can pick a font style, color, or format, or use a fill color for the cells. And you’ll see a preview in the box above the formatting options. For our example, we’ll use an orange fill color.

Select your formatting and click Done

When you’re finished, click “Done.”

Take a look at the cells where you applied the rule and give it a test if you like. You should see your blank cells pop with the formatting that you selected.

Google Sheets conditional formatting for blank cells

Automatically Highlight Errors in Google Sheets

For highlighting errors in Google Sheets, you’ll follow a similar process. However, there isn’t a built-in option for this like there is for empty cells, so you’ll actually enter a function of sorts.

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Follow the same initial steps as described above by selecting the cells, clicking Format > Conditional Formatting from the menu, and choosing the Single Color tab at the top of the sidebar.

Confirm the range of cells in the “Apply to Range” box.

Confirm the cells in Apply To Range

Click the “Format Cells If” drop-down box and choose “Custom Formula Is.” In the box that appears, enter the following and replace the cell reference in parentheses with your beginning cell:

=ISERROR(A1)

Enter the custom formula for errors

In the Formatting Style section, select the formatting that you want to use to highlight the cells with errors. When you finish, click “Done.” For this example, we’ll use red bold text.

Select your formatting and click Done

Review the cells where you applied the rule and test it if you wish. You should see cells containing errors display with the formatting that you selected.

Google Sheets conditional formatting for errors

For other ways to make your spreadsheets easier to read, take a look at how to alternate row or column shading in Google Sheets.

Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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